United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
AND RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER
William Sparks, an Ohio resident who is proceeding without
the assistance of counsel, brings this action against
Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Hooper
and three unnamed bailiffs presumably from the Muskingum
County Court of Common Pleas. This matter is before the
undersigned for consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 1) and the
initial screen of Plaintiff's Complaint under 28 U.S.C.
request to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. All
judicial officers who render services in this action shall do
so as if the costs had been prepaid. 28 U.S.C . §
1915(a). Furthermore, having performed an initial screen, for
the reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED that the Court
DISMISS Plaintiff's claims.
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court
must dismiss the Complaint, or any portion of it, that is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure requires a complaint to set forth “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” In reviewing the Complaint, the
Court must construe it in favor of Plaintiff, accept all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true, and evaluate
whether it contains “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). On the
other hand, a complaint that consists of “labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” is insufficient.
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Although pro se complaints are to be construed
liberally, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972), “basic pleading essentials” are still
required. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th
filed the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging
that Muskingum County Domestic Relations Judge Jeffrey Hooper
and three bailiffs deprived him of his due process rights
during a domestic relations proceeding. (See Doc.
1-2). Plaintiff alleges generally that he never agreed to pay
child support but was nevertheless was required to pay it,
and he was laughed at and ignored. (Id., PAGEID #:
7). With respect to Judge Hooper, Plaintiff alleges that he
“refused to comply or show proof of any
agreement” to pay child support, forced court dates to
proceed despite Plaintiff having no witnesses, and refused to
allow Plaintiff to enter evidence and follow the law.
(Id.). As to the three bailiffs, Plaintiff
alleges they “barked” him out of the building,
called him names, misled him concerning relevant paperwork,
laughed at him, told him to leave, and refused to allow him
to enter items into evidence. (Id.).
Indeed, Plaintiff goes so far as to allege that one of the
bailiffs assaulted him physically in Judge Hooper's
not the first time Plaintiff has attempted to file suit
against Judge Hooper in this Court. In Sparks v.
Zainesville Police Dept., No. 2:11-CV-284, (S.D. Ohio
Aug. 23, 2011), Plaintiff filed a suit against Judge Hooper
and 17 other defendants relating to a different proceeding,
during which he claims he was also laughed at and assaulted.
(See Doc. 1-1 in Sparks, No. 2:11-CV-284).
After granting Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp granted him
leave to amend his complaint for a failure to meet basic
pleading standards. (See Doc. 2 in Sparks,
No. 2:11-CV-284). When Plaintiff failed to amend his
complaint within the specified time, Chief Judge Edmund A.
Sargus, Jr. dismissed the case for the failure to prosecute.
(See Doc. 4 in Sparks, No. 2:11-CV-284).
case, Plaintiff's allegations against Judge Hooper for
allegedly misapplying the law in Plaintiff's domestic
relations proceedings and related allegations are barred by
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The United States District Court
does not have jurisdiction to review state court judgments.
Only the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to
review a case litigated and decided in a state court. See
Gottfried v. Medical Planning Servs., 142 F.3d 326,
330 (6th Cir. 1998). Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a
litigant cannot collaterally attack a state court judgment by
filing a civil rights complaint. Ritter v. Ross, 992
F.2d 750, 754 (7th Cir. 1993); Dist. of Columbia Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983);
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416
(1923). On this basis, the Court recommends dismissal of the
Complaint as it related to Judge Hooper's application of
all but one of Plaintiff's other allegations are barred
by absolute judicial immunity. “Judges are immune from
liability for damages for acts committed within their
judicial discretion.” Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S.
547, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967). Federal officers
likewise have been found to be entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity when performing quasi-judicial functions at the
discretion of the judge. Balas v.
Leishman-Donaldson, No. 91-4073, 1192 WL 217735, at *3
(6th Cir. Sept. 9, 1992). Because the actions alleged here
relate directly to actions taken by or at the discretion of
Judge Hooper, they are barred by absolute judicial immunity.
sole claim that warrants separate mention is Plaintiff's
allegation of assault. As constituted, Plaintiff's claim
for assault fails to meet the basic pleading standards set
forth in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Stated simply, Plaintiff cites no facts to support his
allegation of assault, which consists of nothing more than an
insufficient “label” or “conclusion.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although this Court has construed
Plaintiff's assault claim liberally, it fails to ...